Gather is a place for the creative and tech community to connect, unite and grow. It’s about practical support and advice but also about connecting with likeminded leaders who face the same challenges as you. The challenge of diversity – or lack of it – in our sectors is a challenge we need to tackle together.
We’re going to explore how we can all play our part – starting with this look at gender equality.
Tech is the first-choice career for only 3% of women and only 5% of leadership roles in the tech industry are by women.
The UK’s design industry is 78% male and only 17% of creative directors are female.
They are stark statistics, but why does gender equality in creative and tech really matter?
The creative and tech industries are rewarding, flexible, exciting career paths, but more than that they are sectors that have an influence on how the world looks and works. Without diversity businesses can't properly represent the clients they work for and products, campaigns and tech will only be designed from the perspective of half of those who consume them.
Getting girls into tech
So how can we play our part in addressing the gender gap? According to Chelsea Slater from InnovateHer
when it comes to the tech industry, we need to play the long game:
“When I was young no one told me about technology as a career, when I speak to girls in schools it's still the same for them. Only 10% of girls study Computer Science at GCSE, 5% at A Level, even less at University, when it comes to recruiting for roles that’s a very small pool to select from.”
InnovateHer work to make the tech sector more equitable by increasing diversity and creating more inclusive workplaces and a big part of their work is connecting school pupils with industry role models who can help them learn new skills. As Chelsea says:
“It's a long-term approach but by working with girls before they choose their GCSE's we can show them tech is a possible career, connect them with role models and open their eyes to different opportunities.”
And it’s this early connection combined with readying the internal culture in tech companies that will make the difference. As Chelsea added:
“Lots of tech companies were set up by white men and when the industry took off they needed to grow fast so they turned to people they knew - other white men. It takes time to shift this balance, it needs to be a culture change in businesses too. but our mission is to get girls ready for the tech industry and the tech industry ready for girls.”
Women and creativity
When it comes to the creative industry, the challenges are slightly different.
According to the DBA 5% more women than men enter the industry in junior designer roles. At designer level it’s fairly even, but by Senior Designer level a gap starts to appear and continues to widen until Executive Creative Director level where the split is polarised at 14% women to 86% men.
So the problem lies not in attracting women – but in retaining and rewarding them. This great piece in Creative Bloq unpicks some of the reasons why, and it’s a complex mix of deep held gender stereotypes, lack of support for working mothers including unreasonable expectations around working hours, less female role models, and a culture that celebrates and promotes male success.
Playing our part
But there is an appetite for change, more and more businesses are taking gender diversity seriously and there are lots of great organisations raising awareness and offering support.
So what action can businesses take to play their part and encourage diversity in our industries?
These 5 steps to addressing gender inequality in your business are a good place to start:
1. Change starts at the top
There needs to be a genuine commitment to supporting and creating real change from the top at board and senior leadership team level. Leaders need to lead the change and take their team with them.
2. Make it part of your D&I strategy
If you’re serious about addressing gender inequality it needs to be part of your Diversity & Inclusion strategy with actionable targets. Not got a D&I strategy? Now is the time to develop one and make it the responsibility of someone internally to take ownership of it and drive it forward. If you can put it in your budget as an investment stream even better – a diverse workforce makes for a more profitable workforce and a more attractive culture for future talent.
3. Look for trusted support
To make lasting change across our industries we all need to work together. Look for support from trusted partners – InnovateHer and Kerning the Gap are great places to start. And if another business is doing it well talk to them, learn from them and start conversations.
4. See every role as an opportunity
If you're recruiting think about working with a recruitment agency who can connect you with diverse talent and think of every new role or hire as a chance to change the balance and the dynamic in your team.
5. Think about your culture
If you want to attract more women to join your team is your business ready for it? Talk to your team about your current culture, be open to different perspectives, and discuss any barriers women might face coming into your organisation. The way you work, the events you host, the hours, the training, the perks they could all play a role.
We all have an opportunity to make our industry more inclusive, more equitable, more diverse. It’s not a on size fits all approach but there are actionable steps we can all take to drive forward real change.
Demanding More by Sheree Atcheson
Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men